The walls of the KSFS radio station at SF State are covered with graffiti, a long-standing tradition carried on by students looking to make their mark. A large sign showcasing their slogan, “Embrace the chaos,” is tacked onto the wall.
It is a sentiment that Jeff Jacoby, advisor and associate professor, said he proudly upholds. In the other room, Tim Blair, operations manager of KSFS and broadcast and electronic communication arts major, sat behind the soundboard with his co-host, eager to begin their show “T-Time.” With headphones strapped on and microphones raised to their lips, they dim the lights to, as Blair describes it, “turn our eyes off and our ears on.”
“(Jacoby) always tells us, radio is the most personal of all the medias,” Blair, 24, said. “It’s like you’re talking to one person through the earphone. It’s pretty intimate.”
Blair is just one of the many students who create and stream radio shows online for the KSFS station on SF State’s campus. The station is active Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Students have the ability to produce any type of show they want, and this is probably the only time in their life where they’ll have that opportunity,” said Gina Baleria, who teaches the beginning radio course.
Jacoby said that he prefers free-form college radio, in which the professors don’t tell the students what to do on air.
“We challenge them, we demand excellence, we require audience awareness, we encourage quality programming and we want them to make very good radio,” Jacoby said.
The first week of class consists of production equipment training for the beginning radio class, as well as each newcomer meeting their co-host, according to Baleria. By the third week of school, advanced students are on the air, helping beginners follow in their footsteps.
The shows focus on a range of topics, from popular culture to social justice issues, politics, music shows and relationship advice. Lanica Garcia, 23, a senior BECA major who hosts two shows this semester, said that anything goes with KSFS.
“(Jacoby) really loves it when you do really weird stuff,” Garcia said. “Like messing with turn tables and music speeds and adding in random skips.”
Megan Maurer, 25, a senior music composition major and the general manager of KSFS, began at the radio station in 2013. She currently has a political talk show focusing on the 2016 presidential election, as well as a music show where she brings in local bands for live performances.
“It’s a great creative output for students,” Maurer said. “Having intelligent radio is really important. We are the future, obviously, and, more importantly, we’re the future of the media.”
Kasia Pierog, 23, a BECA senior in the beginning course, has not yet started her show with her co-host, Jesus Cabrera, 27, also a BECA senior. Pierog said she was concerned about the difficulty of learning the new equipment.
“I feel like there wasn’t enough technical prep,” Pierog said. “I know we will be tutored during our first show, but I just wish we had more hands-on (training) before the show.”
The average number of listeners depends on the time and day as well as the program, according to Jacoby. However, he said KSFS tries to increase their awareness through flyers, social media and monthly sponsored DJ nights that they stream and host at The Depot in the Cesar Chavez Student Center.
Jacoby said he believes that the skills needed for radio cannot be obtained from the classroom environment, but rather by hands-on experience.
“My job is to get them committed and then set them free, and if I can manage that, the student has an experience that is stunning, and they often come back and tell me that,” Jacoby said. “When I get them there, they are amazed at what they’ve learned. It’s all about doing your show.”